Yemen’s famine Amal and the other ‘Amals’

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A haunted look in the eyes of Amal Hussain, an emaciated 7-year-old lying silently on a hospital bed in northern Yemen, seemed to sum up the dire circumstances of her war-torn country.

New York Times, which published the photo of Amal firs reports “a searing portrait of the starving girl published in The New York Times last week drew an impassioned response from readers. They expressed heartbreak. They offered money for her family. They wrote in to ask if she was getting better.

On Thursday, Amal’s family said she had died at a ragged refugee camp four miles from the hospital.

“My heart is broken,” said her mother, Mariam Ali, who wept during a phone interview. “Amal was always smiling. Now I’m worried for my other children.”

Amal isn’t alone. The following are her sisters as captured by the photographers of our photo partners EPA. It’s not clear as yet as Amal’s ‘sisters’ in famine are still alive. What’s sure is that the struggle in the country is still going on.

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Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said today at a Press Conference in Amman, following his visit to Yemen.

“I want this moment with you, distinguished colleagues, partners in the media, to be in memory of Amal. Amal’s emaciated body was last week on the cover of the New York Times and shocked the world. But now sadly, she passed away on the 1st of November as you all know. Unfortunately, Amal is not the only Yemeni child suffering that fate.

Colleagues, friends – 30,000 children in Yemen die every single year of malnutrition as one of the most important underlying causes. There is not one Amal – there are many thousands of “Amals”.

“Yemen is today a living hell for children. A living hell not for 50-60 per cent of children. It is a living hell for every single boy and girl in Yemen.”

I know that figures don’t say much but they are important – just as a reminder for all of us to realize how dire the situation has become.

There are in Yemen during any given year, 1.8 million children suffering from acute malnutrition. 400,000 children on any given day suffering from a life-threatening form of severe acute malnutrition. Forty per cent of these 400,000 are living in Hodeida and in neighbouring governorates where the war is raging.



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